Lawyer FAQs

About the service


What is Te Ara Ture? Te Ara Ture is a national pro bono referral service.  We refer worthy and meaningful pro bono opportunities through our online portal to our network of wonderful lawyers and firms. 

What sort of opportunities do we refer?  Most referrals will be individuals seeking legal services of some sort.  The types of services needed will include merits assessments, advice, one-off advocacy or appearances, and help with dispute resolution.  We can also refer not-for-profits who have legal problems, and other types of work, such as CPD opportunities and opportunities to develop resources (for the likes of community law centres or members of the public).


Who does Te Ara Ture help? Te Ara Ture is a service of last resort.  It is for people who want legal help but cannot get it through private lawyers or other free services.  Te Ara Ture works with people who have a legal problem, are not eligible for legal aid (or cannot find a legal aid lawyer), are genuinely unable pay for the help they need, and where legal help is likely to lead to a positive outcome.   

Are people screened before they are referred by Te Ara Ture? Yes. Everyone has to pass a financial and legal merits eligibility assessment before being accepted into the service. Generally, financially eligible people must be in the bottom ½ of income earners and have little disposable income.  Matters will have legal merit if they are genuine legal problems which are capable of being remedied and have a reasonable chance of a successful outcome.  Generally, matters where the legal position is clear, where it is unlikely the legal position can be improved or where the client has already received detailed legal advice will not qualify for a referral.


Do I have to accept referrals? No. It is in your sole discretion whether you accept a referral.  Te Ara Ture does not guarantee to clients that any referrals will be placed with a lawyer.  Of course, we’d love you to accept referrals and encourage people to allocate a certain amount of their annual budget to pro bono legal work.

I want to be part of your network.  Are there any eligibility requirements?  Yes, there are eligibility requirements.  The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act places restrictions on who can do pro bono work and how it can be structured.  Te Ara Ture is working on ways for everyone to become involved.  But for now, there are some limits on who we can work with.  See the Rules and Regulations FAQs to see your options.


Rules and Regulations


Who can do pro bono work through Te Ara Ture? At this stage, only lawyers practicing on their own account or firms can accept legal work through Te Ara Ture.  Employees of those organisations can also do work through Te Ara Ture, provided the employer registers for referrals.  We are developing options for everyone to get involved but this will take us a little longer.

What are the different rules under the Act?

The following is general information only and is not a substitution for advice.  You may have other obligations that we do not discuss below, such as obligations to your employer.  For clarity about your situation, talk to the Law Society or seek legal advice.


  • Solicitors practicing on their own account: You can do pro bono legal work without restriction. Pro bono legal work is treated just the same as other legal work. You can also do pro bono legal work through a community law centre or CAB.


  • Firms run by partners or directors practicing on their own account: Your firm can do pro bono legal work without restriction. Pro bono legal work is treated just the same as other legal work. Your firm can also do pro bono legal work through a community law centre or CAB.


  • Barristers practicing on their own account: You can do pro bono legal work but with some restrictions. While the intervention rule places limits on taking direct instructions from clients it also has exceptions. The exceptions include: some family matters, some employment matters, providing legal opinions, and acting on matters referred by a legal advice service. Te Ara Ture will offer opportunities in family law, employment law, and opinion work. We have also received an opinion, from the drafters of the intervention rule, which concluded that Te Ara Ture is a legal advice service for the purposes of the rule. You can also do pro bono legal work through a community law centre or CAB.


  • Employees of firms, sole practitioners or barristers practicing own their own account: You can do pro bono legal work under your employment relationship. In these circumstances, pro bono legal work is treated just the same as other legal work you do for your employer.  Your employer must be responsible for the retainer and instruction. You can also do pro bono legal work independently through a community law centre or CAB.  In all events, you should talk to your employer before doing pro bono work.


  • In-house lawyers: You can only do pro bono legal work through a community law centre or CAB. In all other cases it is considered misconduct for in-house lawyers do legal work other than for their employer. You can also do other law related activities – provided it doesn’t stray into the definition of legal work in the Act.  In all events, you should talk to your employer before doing pro bono work.


What are the options for in-house lawyers and employed lawyers wanting to do pro bono work outside of their employment? You can already do pro bono legal work through a community law centre or CAB.  If you want to find out more about those options visit their websites.  Te Ara Ture is also developing options for doing law related legal activities outside of the definition of legal work.  This includes developing law related information and resources for the public, law reform work (such as research and submission writing), and law related education.  Many of these activities help to build capability within the community and community organisations, such as community law centres.  If you want to know more about these opportunities when they become available you can register you interest on our contact page.


About the portal


What is the pro bono portal? Te Ara Ture uses a secure online portal to match legal matters with pro bono providers such as you.  The portal is award winning software developed by Justice Connect in Australia.  It is used in Australia by over 170 firms and is being rolled out in multiple jurisdictions around the world.  Te Ara Ture hosts and operates a standalone version of the software.  You can read more about the global project here:


How is the portal used by Te Ara Ture?  The portal is our main way of sending pro bono work to our network and communicating with pro bono providers.  It is used to:

  • post opportunities to the opportunity board

  • manage expressions of interest

  • manage workflows around the placement and management of opportunities

  • communicate with pro bono providers about opportunities

  • transfer documents and information to pro bono providers


Registration process


How do I register as a provider?  Signing up with Te Ara Ture is easy.  It only takes about 5 minutes.  You can do it all at this link:  When you sign up you will need to agree to the terms and conditions, and select your casework preferences.  Once we have processed your registration we will send you the login details for the portal.


What preferences do I have to select?  You need to tell us the areas of law you want to practice in, the types of services you want to provide (eg. court work, advice) and whether you are happy to work remotely (eg. via video, phone, email).  We ask if you’re happy to work remotely because some parts of New Zealand have few lawyers relative to the legal need.  Working remotely can be via video, phone or email.


How are referrals made via the portal? Te Ara Ture will post referral opportunities in the portal, using non-identifying information.  You’ll receive a weekly notification of opportunities that match your preferences.  If you are interested in an opportunity, then you can submit an expression of interest. Te Ara Ture will then release the client’s identity information to you so you can conduct conflict check.  If there is no conflict, then substantive information about the matter, such as client matter documentation, is provided to you for further assessment. If you accept the opportunity, then the matter is allocated to you. The scope of work is confirmed with you and then you can transfer it to your Terms of Engagement. Te Ara Ture will then introduce you to the client. 


Costs and Insurance


What about fees and disbursements? The scope of work under your referral will be undertaken for free for individuals.  You can charge up to 50% of your standard hourly rate for incorporated entities. For internal disbursements (such as phone calls, photocopying) you agree to waive the first $200.00 or, in your absolute discretion, waive all internal disbursements.  You can charge for all internal disbursement if the matter is complex or costly.  External disbursements, such as filing fees and witness fees, can be passed on to the client. 


What if the matter goes beyond the scope of the referral? If you do legal work that is beyond the scope of the referral, you can charge that to the client, at your usual rates and in the usual manner, provided that you do not charge for work that fits within the referral and you notify the client before such costs are incurred.  


Who is responsible for court costs in court proceedings? If the client has costs ordered against them, or agrees to pay costs, then the client is solely responsible for those costs. If the client has costs ordered in their favour, or the other party agrees to pay costs, you can recover costs.  In litigation matters, you may enter into a costs agreement with the client that allows you, under certain conditions, to recover some costs from the proceedings.  The costs agreement must be entered at the outset, and recovery could only occur when:

  • a court or tribunal awards costs in the client’s favour or there is an agreement that the client’s costs or disbursements or both are to be paid by a third party; and

  • the client has recovered some or all of your standard hourly charges and disbursements from a third party.


What about insurance? You don’t need insurance to do pro bono legal work – but it’s clearly a good idea.  We are not aware of any insurance policies that exclude pro bono legal work from cover.  However, you should check with your insurance provider to see whether pro bono legal work is covered.


Other matters


How do you ensure that people coming through the service are not represented by another lawyer? The termination of all prior lawyer/client relationships is a pre-requisite before making an application to Te Ara Ture.


How does Te Ara Ture protect people’s privacy?  For this service to work properly, client’s personal information needs to be shared between Te Ara Ture, community law centres and you. Te Ara Ture’s Privacy Policy governs all parties engaging with Te Ara Ture, including community law centres, clients and you. The Privacy Policy outlines the purposes for which Te Ara Ture collects information, and the ways in which Te Ara Ture uses and discloses information.  The clients have authorised this disclosure through its agreements with Te Ara Ture. The Privacy Policy also covers information gathered about you. The Provider – General Terms provides safeguards around the use of your confidential information.   


Do lawyers have any reporting obligation to Te Ara Ture? Yes. Te Ara Ture needs to collect, analyse and report on information created by users of its service.  This allows us to improve things and access ongoing funding. Te Ara Ture will use that information in a way that is deidentified and protects your commercial interests. The clients have authorised this disclosure through its agreements with Te Ara Ture. It is also important to note that you, in your absolute discretion, may not provide certain information if you reasonably believe that the disclosure to Te Ara Ture will harm your client’s legal position, is contrary to a legal obligation owed by your client, will void legal privilege, will violate the terms of a settlement agreement, or is contrary to your obligation to protect your client’s interests.